Back on track: Strong finish at MIS still frustrating for Martin Truex Jr.
If you look at it on paper, Martin Truex Jr. should be ecstatic with his third-place finish in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400
Yet at the end of the day, the Furniture Row Racing driver was more frustrated than anything.
Starting from the 22nd spot, Truex had one of the fastest cars in the field throughout the opening stages of the race. Charging through the field, Truex's No. 78 Chevrolet was inside the top five by Lap 20, where he would stay for much of the race.
"It was frustrating for sure," Truex told FOXSports.com after the race. "Track position was everything. We drove from 22nd up to fifth in the beginning and we kind of gave it all up a little bit in the pits by making a two-tire call when the other guys took none (during the competition caution)."
From that point on, Truex struggled to overcome the loss of track position, as passing was very difficult with the high-drag aerodynamic package used last weekend.
"We just could never really get that track position," he said. "We were right there and it seemed like we kept getting in the wrong lane on restarts. That would drop us back a couple of spots and we'd have to pass a bunch of cars after every restart that we were already ahead of. It was just a track position battle. It felt like we had enough speed to contend if we ever got there, but we could just never get there."
One of the earliest cars to pit during the final round of green flag pit stops, Truex was able to move to third on the leaderboard when the race cycled back around with 22 laps to go. Crossing the finish line third, Truex bounced back from a 25th-place finish at Watkins Glen and earned his 16th top-10 finish of the year, tying a team record set by Kurt Busch.
After getting off to a scorching hot start to the season scoring 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races, Truex had stumbled a bit since Sonoma in June before Michigan.
While the results leading to to the Pure Michigan 400 might not look have looked good in the statistics book, Truex contends that his team could have kept up the momentum with a little bit of luck.
"You look at last week, we had the best car at Watkins Glen and should've won the race," Truex explained. "We're sitting there riding around because we knew the guys in front of us were going to run out (of fuel), and we get a flat tire. Pocono, same thing, we had the fastest car at the end of the race. We've had great race cars, we just need to execute a little better.
"We've got cars capable of winning and we've got a team capable of winning. Those top 10s are great, but we're looking at bigger and better things. We just need to keep building on what we've been doing. You can't just say, 'Oh, we're going to go out and win next week.' You go out each week and try to put yourself in position and we've done a good job of that. We've had some tough like the last five or six weeks, but we've had some tough luck. If luck doesn't go bad for us, we're going to be right there. I think we can get all the way to Homestead, and that's what our goal is right now."